This Sunday 22nd of April is Earth Day 2018 and to raise awareness we wanted to share with you the Author’s Note from Hello Helloby Brendan Wenzel. The campaign for this year’s Earth Day is to #EndPlasticPollution. Find out what you can do to help at earthday.org
Hello Hello is the gorgeous follow-up to the Caldecott Honor–winning They All Saw a Catand explores another aspect of seeing the world for young children. Beginning with two cats, one black and one white, a chain of animals appears before the reader, linked together by at least one common trait. From simple colours and shapes to more complex and abstract associations, each unexpected encounter celebrates the magnificent diversity of our world—and ultimately paints a story of connection. Brendan Wenzel’s joyous, rhythmic text and exuberant art encourage readers to delight in nature’s infinite differences and to look for—and marvel at—its gorgeous similarities. It all starts with a simple “Hello.”
Brendan Wenzel is an author and illustrator based in upstate New York. His debut picture book, They All Saw a Cat, was a New York Times bestseller and the recipient of a 2017 Caldecott Honor. An ardent conservationist, he is a proud collaborator with many organisations working to ensure the future of wild places and threatened species.
A Note from the Author
You have just said hello to some of my favourite animals. Their colours, shapes, sounds, patterns, habits and strange hairdos make the world a more vibrant and fascinating place. Each one is a vital part of the ecosystem it inhabits.
Sadly, many of these creatures are in trouble—considered to be Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. A species can become threatened for many reasons, like habitat loss, poaching or climate change.
Many people don’t know a lot of these animals even exist. You can help change that! Find out more about the. Head to the library, go on the internet, and share your interest and enthusiasm with everyone you know. You could even write a letter to one of the incredible conservationists working to protect them and keep the places they live safe. The more that people know about these creatures, the better the chance they will share this planet with us for many years to come.
In HBO’s Game of Thrones Tarot award-winning fine artist, illustrator and storyteller Craig Coss, alongside author and thirty-year tarot practitioner Liz Dean, brings the world of Westeros to life through the vivid and atmospheric depictions of recognisable characters and scenes on each card.
The beautifully rendered and wholly original set melds the tradition of the tarot with the deep archetypes of Game of Thrones. Each card, from the Major Arcana to the Cups, Coins, Spears and Swords of the Minor Arcana, offers a rich and meaningful experience. Fans of the hit HBO show can pore over a treasure trove of beloved characters, scenes and stories depict in a style both surprising and true to the world of Westeros. The deluxe box contains 78 cards and a hardcover guidebook which explains the symbolism of each card and how to use them in a tarot reading.
Are you interested in finding out more about the two worlds colliding? Read our interview with illustrator Craig Coss below…
Q. How did you get into art and illustration?
A. I grew up in a family of artists, designers, and storytellers—three or four generations on both sides—so I was raised to develop an eye for proportion and beauty, pencils, paint, and narrative. I’ve done paid illustration work since I was a teenager, starting with watercolors for my little sister who had her own hand-painted earring business in high school. I studied art and philosophy in college, and you could say that my work for the past three decades has been about expressing philosophy through visual art. In the past few years, I’m folding my interest in narrative into the mix. Both stories and visual imagery have been used to teach recondite subjects for centuries, and the idea of telling such stories—visually—intrigues me.
Imagine a village elder has some sort of profound or mystical experience, but because it was too abstract or too weird, her immediate family or friends can’t grasp her meaning. So she encodes her teaching into the symbols of a myth or fairy tale, or weaves it into a carpet, or carves it into the legs of a table. Maybe she sings a nursery rhyme or develops a card game that, if interpreted in a certain way, might point someone who notices it back to her profound experience. In all of these examples, the thing she makes might survive her—and survive even her great-grandchildren. Eventually—perhaps generations later—someone in her village might notice the teaching encoded in her work, and catch her hidden meaning! And in the societies that believe in reincarnation, that person might even be the same soul who encoded the teaching in the artifact or tradition in the first place—so in effect, she sent a little reminder to her future self! (So you can see why, in those societies, it might be a good idea to make such a thing.) It is with this spirit that folk arts have been created since prehistoric times, all over the world, and the resulting artifacts and traditions are imbued not only with beauty, but with deep teachings that even transcend conceptual meanings; such teachings might find resonance with our hearts, but cannot be understood by our thinking minds, because they’re too profound—little Zen koans, woven into a children’s game! Knowing that visual art and story can be used in that way keeps me striving not only in my work as a fine artist and illustrator, but in my life.
Q. How did this project come to be?
A. It was a true collaboration. Chronicle Books asked Liz Dean to author the book that will accompany the deck, and then asked me to illustrate the cards. I’d wanted to do a tarot deck since I was a kid, and I knew the TV show. My wife Michelle is a huge fan and encouraged me to go for it. Liz and the team at Chronicle had a good idea for which characters they wanted to see on the Major Arcana cards, but few ideas for the Minor Arcana. I suggested that we pair the traditional meanings of the Minor Arcana cards with a character, moment, or scene from GoT that best fit the meaning for each and every card. It required that I watch the first six seasons three times over to find the most ideal possible pairings. It seemed so crazy and I wasn’t even sure that it could be done well. But I had a hunch to try. It came together piece by piece—an elaborate puzzle of narrative. New puzzles and constraints came up along the way, and several times I thought that we might lose certain pieces that would compromise the whole. But with Liz, Michelle, and Chronicle’s help, we were able to bring together two narratives—GoT and the traditional tarot—so that they inform and build upon each other. If you know the series well, the divinatory meanings tap into the power of that mythology, and can bring a wellspring of meanings into any tarot reading. And if you come from a background in tarot, you might see the TV series with new eyes. I think we’re all very pleased with the result.
Q. Have you always been a Game of Thrones fan?
A. I’m a bit of a Luddite and stopped watching TV entirely in 1988, when I went to college. But when I recently got my MFA in Visual Narrative at SVA, I had to facilitate an online conversation with my peers about unusual plot arcs in long-form stories. Right away, HBO’s Game of Thrones came up in the conversation, but because I was out of the loop, I had nothing to say and couldn’t facilitate. I turned to Michelle and asked her if she wanted to binge-watch five seasons with me, and she was thrilled. So Game of Thrones was literally the first TV show I’d seen in over twenty-five years! I thought it was very synchronistic that I was asked to illustrate this project. If it had been for any other TV show, I’d have had to turn it down.
Q. Which character or card was your favourite to illustrate and why?
A. I have so many favorites that it’s hard to chose. Some cards paired up with traditional Tarot meanings so closely that at times it was uncanny. But I think The Fool was my favorite card to create. Peter Dinklage is a brilliant actor, and I love his portrayal of Tyrion Lannister. Liz felt strongly that The Fool is a card about following intuition and taking tremendous risks— about trusting in the Grand Order of things that’s beyond the intellect’s understanding. It’s about stepping out of the world of the ego and into a world ordered by something greater. Accordingly, Liz wanted to depict Tyrion freeing a dragon in Meereen. I loved the idea! But she also wanted to include the number zero on the card—something I felt strongly not to do. The Fool has been my favorite card since I was ten years old, and I knew it was the keystone of the entire deck. We fought it out, and eventually I gave in and agreed to number it zero. And then it came to me: the number zero, historically, came from India. It was connected to the early Buddhist concept of the empty mind—a state of consciousness without an ego or identity called Dhyāna, the origin of the word Zen. The Hindus used that sign—the circle to indicate nothingness or emptiness—in a new method of mathematical notation, and thus Hindu-Arabic numerals were born. I wanted to show that history visually in the card, and it came to me to depict the zero as the reflection of Tyrion’s head in the eye of a dragon: a visual pun. In that way, the zero in the card hints that The Fool is connected with the dragon’s eye, but also with the state of surrender to that consciousness. And that’s the state of inspiration that seizes us from another world and allows us to think out of the box, to take risks, and bring something new into the world. Liz’s insistence on the inclusion of the zero sparked the inspiration for the composition of the whole card, and Tyrion—with Dinklage’s beautiful expression while holding aloft a flame in the middle of an Ouroboric dragon—brings a wealth of emotional and symbolic associations to the card. The Fool is a great example of how discussions between Liz and I gave birth to ideas that we could never have come up with alone.
Q. What was your process for creating the artwork?
A. My original idea was to hand carve woodcuts for every card, to scale, just as all of the late medieval Marseilles tarot decks were created. The art director, Michael Morris, loved my coloured woodcut prints, but there just wasn’t time to cut the wood for seventy-eight cards, print them, hand watercolor them and make any revisions that might be needed. So I invented a way to create a woodcut look digitally and made an analogue/digital hybrid for each card. The technique was still labor-intensive, but it made revisions far easier than having to cut new woodblocks and re-paint them. That said, three of the cards in the final set are scans of those woodblock prints. If I did my job well, they won’t be easy to spot.
Q. Are you interested in the world of tarot itself?
A. My father gave me my first set of tarot cards when I was ten years old. He had no idea what they were but he saw them at a garage sale for a dollar and knew I’d love the artwork. I saw in those cards a world of symbolism, mythology, and magic the likes of which I’d never seen before. I read about their use as an oracle, which fascinated me as a kid. But the most powerful aspect of the tarot for me was the idea that archetypes were represented in the Major Arcana and narratives were represented in the Minor Arcana. That’s some heavy-duty mojo: Death, Angels, the Devil—they were all there on these cards. And I realised early on that they were nothing to take lightly. Later, I learned that they were the oldest playing cards in Europe, the progenitors of the playing cards we use today. When travelling in Romania, I saw a friend’s mother using cards to divine whether we should all travel to Istanbul on a certain day or not. Even though she was using ordinary playing cards, she was using them to help us, to make sure we travelled safely.
I’m intrigued by the use of tools that generate apparently random results (e.g. dice, runes, tea leaves, cracks in tortoise shells, or cards) for oracular purposes by people all over the world, since prehistory. It’s our way of saying, “I don’t know what to do, which way to go, or what choice to make.” We’re asking for help, and letting a higher power or the Great Mystery that controls the so-called “random” events in the universe intercede and possibly help us. To me, there’s something beautiful in that trust that we can have, whether you call it faith or psychological projection. And in my experience with oracles such as the I Ching, the greater one’s trust that a useful response might come through such tools, the more accurate the results can be.
People can make an oracle out of almost anything that they don’t feel that they control, but the tarot is the most visually beautiful and evocative tradition of divination I’m aware of. Even if you think the whole oracular thing is hogwash, the images are undeniably beautiful and powerful; for that reason, I’ve collected tarot decks since I was a kid.
Craig Coss is an award-winning San Francisco Bay Area fine artist, illustrator and storyteller with an MFA in Visual Narrative from the School of Visual Arts. He’s the author of The Goddess Coloring Book: Traditional Images to Contemplate & Color. When he was given his first tarot deck at age ten, he knew it would point him in the right direction.
Liz Dean is a tarot practitioner of thirty years’ standing and the author of four tarot decks and ten books, including The Ultimate Guide to Tarot and The Art of Tarot. She reads and teaches tarot at Psychic Sisters within Selfridges, London, and lives in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
This month’s Bookshop of the Month is Drake the Bookshop – a wonderful, family-run bookshop in Stockton-on-Tees.
Richard, a former Maths teacher, took the leap from teaching to opening the bookshop with his partner, Melanie Greenwood, in September 2016. They started out in a very small space within the local shopping arcade but expanded to nearby Silver Street within their first year.
They are book champions dedicated to promoting reading within their community through book clubs, author events, working with schools and festivals. Within the shop itself the team work hard to provide an eclectic mix of books to reach as many readers as possible, including those with dyslexia (they have a dedicated section), and their children’s area is particularly inviting with an excellent range of titles to choose from, encouraging the browsing and selection process from an early age. We’re also big fans of their 2018 promotion – ‘Space on the Shelf’ celebrating women in print (check out their blog). Next time you’re in the area do pop by to meet the enthusiastic booksellers and passionate reading advocates – I challenge you to leave without buying a book!
We caught up with Richard and Melanie and asked them a few questions:
1. Congratulations on being chosen as our March Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Drake the Bookshop in three words?
MAKING READING FUN
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
The Children’s Reading Corner (courtesy of James Patterson), it’s where most of the laughs and giggles are
3. Where do you like to read?
Usually in bed, but the comfy chair in the corner of the shop is pretty cool too.
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be?
THIS IS OUR DREAM JOB! We left our other jobs to do this. If we weren’t doing this it would be trying to be ‘The Good Life’ on a small patch of land!
5. Excluding Drake the Bookshop – what is your favourite bookshop?
BARTER BOOKS, ALNWICK – we can get lost in there for days!
Caravansérail is a gorgeous bilingual bookshop, gallery and cultural space nestled in London’s Brick Lane, which offers a wonderful aray of adult and children’s titles in both French and English. Head there to find your newest read and grab a coffee surrounded by beautiful books, shelving and art. The shop front is spectacular (the blue is so striking and inviting) and their signage and branding is stunning.
Since opening in September 2017, co-owners Laura and Anne have hosted various events featuring authors, artists and musicians, cementing themselves as a hub within the community.
There’s something for everyone in the shop, from a carefully curated selection of cookery titles chosen by a local chef, or the wide range of translated fiction – a focus for Laura.
We caught up with Laura and Anne and asked them a few questions:
1. Congratulations on being chosen as our February Bookshop of the Month! We’ve talked a bit about you and the shop but how would you describe Caravansérail in five words?
A home for hybrid cultures.
2. Where is your favourite spot in the store?
The children’s nook! A place to shelter and escape from the buzz of the city. A perfect spot to read, whether you’re with kids or not.
3. Where do you like to read? Anne: in the wilderness! I used to live on the West coast of Canada and my favourite spot to read so far has been in Dorreen – an abandoned mining town in British Columbia that you can only access by train. A heaven lost between mountains, forest and river. Comfortably seated on the porch of a cabin, a steaming mug of coffee in one hand, a book in the other… and not too far away, a bowl of freshly picked blueberries. Sublime! Laura: nothing beats the combination of reading and fireplace for me, wherever it may be.
4. If you weren’t a bookseller what would you be? Anne: aside from Caravansérail, I am running an artist residency and an artists agency. Supporting and promoting the work of emerging artists is the cement of these three activities. Laura: I’d probably be doing something in publishing.
5. Excluding Caravansérail – what is your favourite bookshop? Anne: I love browsing the beautiful bookshops in the Quartier latin in Paris – a day well spent! Laura: without hesitation Daunt Books, Marylebone.
The moment Spencer meets Hope the summer before seventh grade, it’s . . . something at first sight. He knows she’s special, possibly even magical. The pair become fast friends, climbing trees and planning world travels. After years of being outshone by his older brother and teased because of his Tourette syndrome, Spencer finally feels like he belongs. But as Hope and Spencer get older and life gets messier, the clear label of “friend” gets messier, too. Through sibling feuds and family tragedies, new relationships and broken hearts, the two grow together and apart, and Spencer, an aspiring scientist, tries to map it all out using his trusty system of taxonomy. He wants to identify and classify their relationship, but in the end, he finds that life doesn’t always fit into easy-to-manage boxes, and it’s this messy complexity that makes life so rich and beautiful.
Rachael Allen is the author of 17 First Kisses and The Revenge Playbook. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two children and two sled dogs. Visit her website here.
We fell in love with Spencer’s taxonomy charts in the book so we couldn’t resist asking Rachael to make a taxonomy about… Taxonomy! See her beautiful hand-written creation below:
From sibling relationships to neurodiverse characters to peach ice cream (x3), not only does A Taxonomy of Love span 6 years of the characters’ lives, it also incorporates some of the most important aspects of family, friendship, love and loss while subverting stereotypes in the process.
If you’re still not sure, you can dive into an extract here!
Let us know your thoughts at @ACBYA using #TaxonomyOfLove
We first featured paper artist Marc Hagan-Guirey back in September, when his new book, STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, hit shelves. He explained how he first encountered the world of kirigami and what led him to start creating scenes, buildings and vehicles from movies.
Now, with only one week until the latest instalment in the Star Wars saga hits cinema, he has told us a little more about the book and its part in the journey to The Last Jedi.
So how do you turn the ships into paper? What is the design process?
Needless to say I watch a lot of Star Wars. There’s a ton of resource material to work from which is great to make the kirigami design as accurate as possible. Sometimes there’s a bit of artistic license involved in order to make a ship fold properly. It’s about figuring out the basic shape of the ship first and then building upon that with details. I often use the LEGO versions of ships as resource because they’re essentially simpler versions of the real thing.
Which is your favourite ship in the book and why?
A prequel ship. The Jedi Star fighter from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith stands out for me. The prequel ships are slightly more stylised than those in the original trilogy. With lots of extra details and folds, they translate really well to paper.
Is there anything else interesting about the creation of the book that you can share with us?
Apart from a new ship from The Last Jedi, I wanted to offer something a little different with my book. I’m really interested in the production design process, from concept to final product. Each project comes with a written accompaniment detailing this. There are lots of interesting facts about the designers who worked on the films and pictures of the original concept drawings. It’s a celebration of the people behind the camera.
Tell us about the Star Wars exhibition you did.
It was called Cut Scene. It had 12 kirigami scenes from the original trilogy. my exhibitions are more like a collection of tiny movie installations. Each kirigami was housed in shadow box with a strong backlit colour reflective of the tone of the movie scene. I love how lighting plays a huge effect in cinema in creating that theatre. With the kirigami you get to experience a dual personality. You can appreciate the paper for the ‘craft aspect’ when viewed in a fully lit room (with ‘the big lights’ on) and then become immersed in the effect when they are lit with colour. It’s a bit like riding a ghost train in the dark and then again with the lights on. The experiences are very different – with the lights on you get to say ‘ah! That’s how they did it’.
The pieces were arranged chronologically and floated on the walls at eye level. I loved how every morning when I’d go in to the gallery to prepare it for opening, I’d have to clean nose smudges off the perspex from when people had be peering in. They’re probably the most complex work I’ve done to date. For example, my favourite, the Carbonite Freezing scene from The Empire Strikes Back took me around 2 years to master. Tweak after tweak, I was still working on it a few days before the show opened. I’m so glad I did that show. I was nervous because the Horrorgami exhibition had garnered so much press that anything other than that would have felt like a bit of a letdown. Cut Scene ended up dwarfing it in those terms. I was also not feeling great before that. I’d lost my mum to cancer, came to the end of a 7 year relationship and moved out of our home that I’d spent 2 years renovating, so much of the effect of those experiences had compounded. I literally decided one day – what makes me happy? What will help me get back to being me? As silly as it sounds the answer was kirigami and Star Wars.
What other books have you published?
This is my third book now. My first book ‘Horrorgami’ was a follow up to my first exhibition. Just a few months ago my second book ‘Frank Lloyd Wright Paper Models’ was published. It’s a collection of his 14 most celebrated buildings. I’ve just returned from California and visited (loitered) outside quite a few of them.
What’s next for you?
I’m keen to have another solo exhibition. I’ve had 3 year gaps between them so I’m ready… that’s how long it takes to build up the energy. They’re all consuming! If enough people like this book then hopefully I can do another!
Who or what are you inspired by?
I guess there’s no one particular source. Film, TV, interior designs. I have a tendency to be drawn more towards the relatively more ‘unsung’ heroes of film & TV such as set designers and concept artists. Outside of media I find inspiration in all sorts just from being observant. I guess if I can look at something, anything be it an object or photo and I can see it has a backstory – then my mind goes into overdrive romancing what it’s history is. I’ve got lots of pals who make stuff – crafters and artists. Anyone who makes something from nothing inspires me to keep creating.
If you could meet any actor from the Star Wars films who would you most like to meet and why?
It would have been Carrie Fisher. Her passing has a huge effect on me. It was very strange – psycho-analysing myself – her death had obviously re-surfaced the loss of my mum a few years ago. Another feisty woman who was gone too soon. On top of mourning the loss of a person you admire as a fan-base, we also are hurting due to the loss of the character too – knowing that they’ll never be able to fully complete her character’s arc. I always felt out of every character, Leia lost the most and gave the most. Luke was obsessed with his own journey whilst Leia looked at the bigger picture and sadly either her family was taken from her or they abandoned her (in the new films). She deserves a happy conclusion.
Are you excited to see the new film; The Last Jedi which is released cinemas this December?
I think tormented by the wait is the more accurate feeling!
STAR WARS KIRIGAMI is out now. Find out more here and watch Marc Hagan-Guirey in action here!
In STAR WARS™ KIRIGAMI, celebrated paper artist and designer Marc Hagan-Guirey applies his genius to the Star Wars galaxy in this book of 15 unique kirigami (cut and-fold) ships featured in the saga’s films. Ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert, each beautifully detailed model features step-by-step instructions and a template printed on cardstock—all that’s needed are a utility knife, a cutting mat, and a ruler!
We asked Marc everything you need to know about the world of kirigami, getting started with the craft and his interest in Star Wars:
What is kirigami?
Kirigami is a bit like origami except that instead of just folding the paper, you cut it too. ‘Ori’ - means fold and ‘kiri’ means cut. Kirigami is traditionally used to create architectural replicas but it’s perfectly suitable for spaceships too! The cool thing about kirigami is that it’s just one sheet of paper – nothing is glued or added to it. It’s part of the joy that you can create something so interesting from a ubiquity of a piece of paper.
How did you get started creating kirigami?
I feel like it was a bit of a serendipitous moment that lead to me experimenting with the craft. I’m a big fan of the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and back in 2012 my partner and I told a few white lies to get a private tour of one of his most elusive buildings – the Ennis House in LA. It was a condemned building and had been out of bounds to the public for over 20 years. We may have told them we had the $14 million needed to buy it and were very keen to come and see it. The experience had a huge impact on me – I’d go as far as saying it was spiritual. I wanted to mark the occasion by making some of sort of memento. As a kid I always loved to craft, my currency was egg cartons, toilet roll tubes and cereal boxes (it still pains me to see these things put in the recycling) but as an adult we all know too well that life gets in the way. I’m a designer director in digital but I still had that yearning to use my hands again. When I was researching what to make, I happened upon examples of kirigami. I felt paper was the perfect material to make a replica of the Ennis House due to its fragility. I quickly saw that kirigami wasn’t just limited to buildings and I started making scenes from movies.
Is your book suitable for complete beginners of kirigami?
There are a few ‘beginner’ projects in the book to get you started. I feel kirigami is easy to advance in and you’ll soon want more challenging projects. The most important thing is to be patient, take breaks and enjoy the process. I find it meditative to concentrate and not be distracted by the ‘coke machine glow’ of mobile devices.
Do you need any special tools to do kirigami?
You need a few inexpensive things – a cutting matt, a metal ruler, an x-acto knife with replaceable blades. Also a toothpick will be really useful to pop out some of the smaller folds.
Why did you decide to create Star Wars ships using kirigami?
Why not?! It was more of a necessity for me. I was already creating Star Wars kirigami back when I started experimenting with it. The idea to do a ship focused book was suggested by Mike Siglain, the Creative Director of Lucasfilm publishing – he’s a man with good ideas.
Have you always been a Star Wars fan?
I’ve always been a Star Wars fan and was essentially born into it. I’m an 80s kid so never saw it first time around at the cinema but I have an older brother who was the right age. I feel a bit guilty now for commandeering all of his original Kenner action figures – it must have been torture for him to see his baby brother destroy them but I did just buy him a full scale licensed replica of Vader’s helmet for his 40th birthday so I think we’re even now.
How did the book come to be?
A lot of knocking on doors and badgering people with emails. I started talking to Lucasfilm about the idea in 2014. During that time I was invited to the set of Episode VII and in a serendipitous moment I ended up chatting to JJ Abrams about my work. He was really excited by it and frog marched me across the set of ‘Star Killer’ base to meet Kathleen Kennedy. It was the only time I ever had a business card in my wallet – albeit a very dog-eared one. I had an unofficial exhibition of Star Wars kirigami scenes in 2015 – it had a lot of press and went viral. Lots of big media outlets such as the BFI, Wired, BBC World News, CNN were covering it. I guess it was inevitable that Disney took notice and that dog-eared business card eventually made its way to the business development department. I thought I was in trouble when they called! I’ve got to say the process of working with Disney, Lucasfilm, my publisher Hachette and my US publisher Chronicle has been wonderful.
Click here to find out more about STAR WARS KIRIGAMI, which publishes today!
Accomplished restaurateur Charles Compagnon’s third restaurant, with an ever-changing menu and nonstop service from breakfast through dinner. Don’t miss a bottle of his own beer, La Marise, and a cup of Café Compagnon which he will soon be roasting himself in Courances, outside of Paris.
Timothée Teyssier’s itinerant coffee bike may only hit the road for special events but he can now be found in his new fixed location in the 15th arrondissement, turning out excellent coffee, cakes, and fresh soups and salads.
Master crafter Livia Cetti is here to share the story of how she came to create her exquisite paper flowers.
Take is away Livia!
Growing up in the mountains of Santa Barbara, I’ve always been drawn to nature. As a child, I spent a lot of time playing with flowers and I created my first bouquet for the wedding of family friends at 7 years old. I began working for a floral shop in high school and went on to study fine arts at the San Francisco Institute of Art, always working for florists along the way. After graduating, I continued to hone my floral skills in various places and cities.
I knew I didn’t want to have a floral shop of my own – the market is already saturated with so many great florists. I became the senior style editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, and after a career in magazines I fell into freelance floral styling, which I really love because of how detail oriented it is. I made my first paper flower for a client and have been making paper flowers ever since.
I have always been interested in the movement towards handmade objects and had been looking for something I could make in my basement so that I could be close to my children and paper flowers were it.
I think about each flower for a long time before I make it. I’m never trying to copy the flower identically, but instead am trying to capture what I love most about the flower. Overtime the way I make different paper flowers develops and changes. I’m really excited to be able to share the way my paper peonies and roses have evolved in my second book. When I first began making peonies, it was difficult for me to figure out the right system for creating volume in the petals. Eventually I created a method of layering, fanning, and darting, which allowed me to create more realistic looking peonies. The same method has translated into the way that I make paper roses. I’ve loved the way the roses have continued to develop – there’s so much diversity and infinite possibilities, and in the end they always look like a rose.
Livia’s new book;The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower Transformations: Playing with Size, Shape, and Color to Create Spectacular Paper Arrangements is out now. Pick-up your copy in all good bookstores and start your own crafting story.
This series started on a school field trip. I taught seventh grade English for fifteen years, as part of a wonderful interdisciplinary team. Every winter, we used to take our students on a snowshoe field trip in the nearby Adirondack Mountains to look for animal tracks and other signs of life in the winter woods. On one of those field trips, we saw this.
It was just a little hole in the snow, with some tiny tracks leading up to it. The naturalist guiding us could have walked right on past. But instead, she stopped our group and said, “Oh! Everyone gather around and look at this!” When we were all circled around, she pointed down and said breathlessly, “Do you know what this means?” She paused. Then she whispered. “This means that we’ve had a visitor from…the subnivean zone!”
We stood in hushed silence for a moment until someone said, “What’s that?” And our guide explained that the subnivean zone is the fancy phrase used to describe the secret network of tunnels and tiny caves that exist under the winter snow. All the smallest forest animals knew about it, she told us, and they’d go down there to be a little warmer, a little safer from predators. And then we continued on down the path.
But the rest of the day, as I padded through the woods on my snowshoes, I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said. We’d been hiking for three or four miles…and all that time, there’d been a secret invisible world going on down there, under the snow? I asked a lot more questions. We talked more about the different animals who make their winter homes under the snow and the creatures who find their way through the woods above. And when I got back to the school bus, after I took attendance and made sure we hadn’t left any seventh graders out in the woods, I started writing. I didn’t even have a notebook with me that day – my first draft of Over and Under the Snow was written on the back of the attendance list for the field trip, in bumpy, school-bus handwriting. But it couldn’t wait, because I was fuelled by wonder that afternoon.
That’s what we do as writers of children’s books – we wonder. We stop everyone in their tracks. We slow down the day for a few minutes to say, “Look at this! Look more closely… Isn’t it amazing?” And that’s how I know when I have a story idea with the staying power to grow into a picture book. If I’m feeling that sense of awe at how things work, how things are, how amazing this part of our natural world is, then kids are likely to feel that way, too.
After Over and Under the Snow was published and doing well in the world, Chronicle asked illustrator Christopher Silas Neal and I if there might be another hidden world we’d like to explore. We emailed back and forth a bit, talking about the things that made us wonder. And we discovered that we both loved our vegetable gardens. Not just the weeding and tomato-eating part of gardening…but the wondering part. We’re both parents who love getting down on our bellies to look more closely at the critters that inhabit our gardens, and that was the wonder that sparked our second book together, Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt.
Our third book together, Over and Under the Pond, starts in that same place – with a familiar setting and a desire to slow down for a closer look. When I was getting ready to work on this book, I went back to the setting of Over and Under the Snow– the trails of the Paul Smiths Visitors Interpretive Center in the Adirondacks – but in a different season. The pond that had been covered with ice and snow in January felt like an entirely different place in July — a green, lush, buzzing ecosystem, just waiting to be explored. So I scheduled one of the centre’s guided canoe trips and spent a day paddling through the reeds. We marvelled at the tiny water striders skating on the pond’s surface, stared up at woodpecker scars on a tall tree by the water, and gasped as an American Bittern fluttered up from the grass.
There were families along on the trip, and I watched them, too. With their phones turned off and tucked away in waterproof bags, they paddled through the quiet together, whispering about the minnows and wondering what might live in that hollow log on shore. Slowing down in places like this feeds us in important ways. As a writer, I walked away from my canoe at the end of the day full of ideas, full of images and poetry and fresh air. I was ready to hit the library, finish my research, and get to work on Over and Under the Pond. But maybe even more important than that, spending time in the quiet of a cold snowy trail or a warm mountain pond reminds us to slow down. To look. Listen. And wonder. That’s my biggest hope for these books – that they’ll bring families together on the couch for a cozy story and then outdoors to wonder, too.
Over and Under the Pond is out now, order your copy today.